Hadrian's Homosexuality In Ancient Rome

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The third of the five good emperors, Publius Aelius Trainus Hadrianus, or Hadrian as he is more widely known, ruled between 117-138CE. During the death of the previous emperor, Trajan, it is believed Hadrian was adopted by Trajan and named as his heir; however, there is consistent speculation over the validity of the adoption. Nevertheless, Hadrian succeeded Trajan and became a benevolent emperor who took responsibility for those he governed, embraced architecture, and advanced the already implemented acceptance of homosexuality.

Upon Hadrian’s accession to power, he was able to garner the peoples’ favor. For example, during his reign, Hadrian “did not stir up any war, and he terminated those already in progress…” (Cocceianuus,
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After travelling to Greece, Hadrian formed a relationship with the young Greek male, Antinous, who, following their encounter, “accompanied Hadrian on his travels” (Tucker). During the time of Hadrian’s reign, homosexuality among men was accepted so long as the elder male remained dominant within the relationship and during intimacy. In this manner, the relationship that developed between Hadrian and Antinous in which Antinous had been considered “a favourite of the emperor” (Cocceianuus, 445) was completely legal. However, it was not their relationship that warranted further homosexual acceptance among Rome, but rather the extent to which Hadrian mourned his lover after Antinous had drowned in the Nile River in 130CE. For instance, Hadrian memorialized Antinous “by building a city on the spot where he had suffered this fate and naming it after him; and he also set up statues, or rather sacred images of him, all over the world” (Cocceianuus, 447). The city Hadrian constructed along the Nile came to be known as Antinoopolis and eventually possessed a temple and a festival in honor of Hadrian’s deceased lover; which led to the deification of Antinous and numerous cults that are said to have “competed with Christianity” ("Hadrian — Life and Legacy"). For

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